BC Hydro is conscientious about the environment

To the Editor:
The Revelstoke Dam and Generating Station is a high capacity hydro-electric facility on the Columbia River north of Revelstoke. Originally designed and licenced to hold six 500 megawatt generating units, only four were installed when the facility began operating in 1984. In 2010, BC Hydro installed the fifth generating unit and is now planning for the sixth unit (Revelstoke 6). Although our electricity forecasts indicate that Revestoke 6 will not be needed until sometime around 2029/2030, BC Hydro is taking steps to reduce the lead time for Revelstoke 6 should more power be needed sooner than expected to meet the needs of British Columbians.
In support of this effort, BC Hydro initiated an environmental review in November 2013 to identify and address the effects of construction and operation of the proposed sixth unit. This included the establishment of a Core Committee with representation from federal, provincial and local governments, First Nations, businesses, not-for-profit groups, and interested individuals. This Committee will review project information, help identify project effects and recommend mitigation measures. BC Hydro will be investigating whether Revelstoke wetlands are currently affected by Revelstoke Dam operations. Last year, BC Hydro installed water level monitoring equipment in 10 wetland locations downstream from Revelstoke Dam. These data will be analyzed along with operational data to see if changes in Revelstoke dam discharges relate to changes in wetland water level elevations and if so, assess the predicted change with the operation of Revelstoke Unit 6.

Map of wetland water level monitoring stations. Please click on the image to see a larger version. Map courtesy of BC Hydro
Map of wetland water level monitoring stations. Please click on the image to see a larger version. Map courtesy of BC Hydro

For previous projects, including Revelstoke Unit 5 and Mica Units 5 and 6, all Core Committee recommendations were included in the Environmental Assessment Certificate applications submitted as part of the environmental review. These recommendations were further refined during the provincial environmental review and incorporated as project commitments in the project’s Environmental Assessment Certificate. BC Hydro is and will continue to deliver on all project commitments.
In addition to project commitments, BC Hydro has other programs in place designed to offset the environmental impacts of our facility operations. BC Hydro is currently implementing a large number of programs and projects recommended by the Columbia River Water Use Plan in 2007 that includes numerous monitoring studies and projects downstream of Revelstoke Dam. Data from these studies confirm the value of a number of local wetlands for amphibians and birds. Recognizing this importance, BC Hydro is delivering projects designed to protect and enhance this habitat. A recent project involved installing rip rap along an outflow channel bank in an effort to protect the Airport Outflow wetland in the drawdown zone below Cashato Drive and Nichol Road.
For more information about BC Hydro’s operations or programs in the Revelstoke area, please feel free to contact me directly at 250-814-6645 or send an email to jennifer.walker-larsen@bchydro.com.
Jen Walker-Larsen
BC Hydro
Revelstoke, BC